Originally from the streets of Chicago, Cap 1 is a successful emcee that now calls Atlanta his home base, while splitting his time between L.A. and Chicago to take on his many projects. He is best known for his flawless freestyle chops, which caught the attention of Grammy Award winning rapper and Def Jam recording artist, 2 Chains, who quickly signed Cap as an artist and writer to his own imprint, The Real University.
He has crafted hit songs for artists including Yung Berg’s “Sexy Can I” and sports an impressive list of collaborations that includes Ludacris, Drake, Nicki Minaj ,Twista, Jazze Pha, Bobby Valentino, and more. We had an opportunity to sit down with Cap and discuss the twists and turns of a long and winding career and an artist that constantly continues to reinvent himself.
You’ve had quite a journey as an artist. Can you talk about that journey and how you got into the game?
Sure, I’m originally from Chicago. I was the first rapper signed to Motown in 2000. I grew up with Kanye West, you know. So the demo that actually got me my record deal was produced by Kanye. A lot of the beats on that demo were his. I’ve been long term friends with 2 Chainz, who back then was known as Tity Boi. I was the first artist signed to his imprint. Which brings us up to current speed.
"I work with pretty much all of the artists around Atlanta. Since then we've stamped our own imprint with Caviar Dreams."
Street Execs is our management so I've been on a lot of the tours with 2 Chains as the open act. So just to be able to see a lot of the different eras from when I had the first deal on Motown to where the sound has gone today. How the times change, the looks and just the whole thing. It’s about being able to remain relevant.
So how do you use the studio as your instrument? What are some tips or tricks you can share?
"The studio was definitely my instrument as far as my outlet. It’s like this is my version of going to the gym."
I like to record. I don't write so I like to record it like right then and there. So like of course my engineer, he’s definitely a key player. That's like my pass, my go to. You need a good engineer in the studio because a lot of times artists that don't write they need someone who is just as quick as them.
So when you have somebody at the board who knows all that studio equipment that's got you covered, you can forget the thought, you can forget the cadence and things like that. So that the studio is about being able to express whatever you feel of that thought right then and there. You need somebody that can catch that for you, you know. So the studio, this is my gym. You've got to just stay sharp and be fit and everybody that's working out with you got to be on the same plan.
So you really had an interesting journey because you know you all these people from back in the day that you grew up with, who were like the biggest names in the business?
Yeah, It’s crazy. A lot of the key figures in the music or film or fashion industry. They’re kind of like my personal partners. So it's kind of dope. I see everybody and they’ve got their own little mission but we can still come around the round table for the same purpose and work.
Shifting gears to the track. How important is the vocal to the track?
The vocal is just as important to the track as the snare, the kick. Any other instrument on the beat because the vocal becomes an instrument. Especially the delivery. Depending on the delivery, the cadence, that comes across as its own instrument or its own rhythm within a rhythm. So it's like the vocals need to be just as clear and have just as much quality and presence as anything that's on the track.
And how has the Eyeball impacted your art?
I mean the Kaotica Eyeball to me is dope just off of the fact that like me being an artist I travel a lot.
"I'm not always able to get into the studio with a vocal booth and different things like that and with the Eyeball, we can just set up in the middle of the hotel room and have a virtual vocal booth."
The quality is just as good as if we were at one of the top studios across the world. So it’s like a mobile vocal booth that you can bring with you around the world. So it was like a studio in your bag. You pull that out and you can get to work. So it’s definitely been a blessing really. And you save a lot of money. You don't have to keep going back to the studio. You can use those tracks from your travels or even from a home music studio. Like I said we've been we've been on the road for a minute.
What advice would you offer to someone trying to walk in your shoes and make a name for themselves?
What I would like to tell artists is to always be true to yourself. Because the fans change, the times change. But like as long as people can say that you were 100% you the whole way through then they can always relate to you because you never changed who you are. You didn’t change for the times or for the sound.
Like I said, I was the first rapper in 2000 signed to Motown. Now it’s 2017.
"And the main thing is about remaining relevant and sometimes to do that you have to brand yourself outside of being an artist."
Whether that be merchandise, whether that be different business ventures that you do you have to always plan for the exit because you're not going to always be top dawg. There’s always going to be a new person, somebody who raps better, raps faster or whatever the case may be.
So while you have that window of persuasion where you can tell people, ‘All right, they want to do this because you did that.’ When you stamped your brand. And that's when you can kind of start branching off into your own vision and step into other things that help you remain relevant so you can kind of piggyback off of your own self. And when you need to jump back in the game you can.
Your lifespan may come from other things. Like for instance, I have my own product. We have the Caviar Dream water. It’s an alkaline water, 8.0 Ph level, electrolytes. It’s in all of the clubs around the city. And on top of the fact that we are giving healthy water back to the community. So on top of being an artist it's also about giving back while stamping your brand. That's what we do.